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Recently another researcher contacted me after reading an old article of mine comparing virtual ethnography, Netnography, & digital sociology from the perspectives of a research framewors. I was asked for some clarification about Netnography and what I termed ‘virtual ethnography’

I have the feeling that Netnography is a more specific and detailed online ethnography, am I right?

In a word, yes.

Kozinet himself differentiates Netnography from ethnography because he says his approach is structured and carried out within a framework. He compares this to online ethnography which is a more general term for a set of different umbrella approaches. He goes on and says:

Netnography refers to a specific set of online ethnographic procedures characterized by a particular methodology, including an epistemological background, analytic frameworks, and a consistent and evolving set of guidelines for entree, observation, data analysis, ethics, and so on.

For further discussions on Netnography as a framework, approach and use in studies I would recommend reading how it has been used in health research (Rashin et al, 2015), marketing (Bartl et al, 2016) and in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods (Costello et al, 2017).

Lastly if you have access to a university/institutional library I would strongly suggest picking up a copy of Kozinet’s third edition book on Netnography and Christine Hine’s Ethnography for the Internet to compare yourself. Kozinet refers to Hine several times throughout this book and is helpfully cited in the back-Index pages.